The inlands of the Middle West
Are far from sounding seas!
And where my early years were spent
Not even running rivers lent
Their music to the breeze.
But there were billowing fields of grain
That ofttimes mocked the green-hued main
When Summer decked the leas.
Yet always in those early years
I felt a sweet unrest;
And deep within the heart of me
There was a longing for the sea:
The reindeer in my breast
Seemed ever eager to set forth,
As reindeers in the snowbound north
Make once their briny quest.
It must have been the voice of Love
That this strange longing stirred:
For when I found the sea one day
It was dear Love that led the way,
And they became one word.
Love was the sea, the sea was Love,
And all life's joy was made thereof
When once that voice I heard.
Now oceans, islands, sounds and seas,
And ports where vessels lie,
And harbours where they sail away,
And surging billows decked in spray
Where wide-winged seagulls fly,
And beaches where the bathers rove.
All, all are properties of Love
With their blue arching sky.
The glaciers and majestic Alps,
The mountains filled with ore,
The cities with their mighty throngs
Are yours--but unto me belongs,
To Love and me, each shore,
Where all the billows of the world
By God's tremendous hand are hurled,
And ours is all their store.
We sailed, and sailed, and sailed again
Our wonder seas of earth;
We sailed to every port and clime,
We laughed at danger and at time,
And life was full of mirth;
And joy was in our sea-girt home,
And when we roamed, joy, too, would roam
And bunk beside our berth.
But one May night Love sailed away
Across a mystic sea;
I know not why he went alone
To some far harbour all unknown,
Nor how this thing could be
That suddenly he should embark
On that strange vessel in the dark
Without one call to me.
Love left me all the seas of earth
And all their cargoed ships;
And memories within each hold
More precious than a mine of gold,
But joy is in eclipse,
And must be, till I, too, enroll
On that same ship, and my freed soul
From out the harbour slips.
And though all seas and ships are mine,
By right of Love made so,
Yet when that craft that came at night
Shall come again for my delight
Is not for me to know:
I only know I cannot fail
To see at last its splendid sail
And leap on board and go.
Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.
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